President Cyril Ramaphosa penned a scathing three-page letter to SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane yesterday informing him of reasons why he suspended him after Moyane reportedly refused to step down voluntarily at the weekend.
According to the letter obtained, Ramaphosa said he had lost confidence in Moyane’s ability to lead Sars over a number of scandals that have dogged the service during his tenure.
“Developments at the Sars under your leadership have resulted in a deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised. For the sake of the country and the economy‚ this situation cannot be allowed to continue‚ or to worsen,” Ramaphosa said.
“As I made plain to you‚ I have lost confidence in your ability to lead Sars. Your position is not one of any ordinary employee. Your obligation to be responsible for the performance of Sars and its functions impacts on the public purse and therefore the wellbeing of the nation as a whole. This is an exceptional circumstance that requires urgent and immediate action,” he added.
Moyane’s alleged failure to attend to a report given to him in 2016 by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), which alerted him of suspicious payments into his second-in-command Jonas Makwakwa and that of his partner Kelly-Ann Elskie, was one of the reasons he was suspended.
In November last year, Makwakwa was cleared of all charges and given the go-ahead to return to work. However, opposition parties objected strongly to his reinstatement.
He recently faced fresh allegations of a conflict of interest after NICS was appointed as debt collectors for Sars. But Moyane said when he put these to Makwakwa, he announced he had decided to resign.
Ramaphosa said: “In relation to Mr Makwakwa‚ your delay in attending to this matter‚ your treatment of the report given to you by the Financial Intelligence Centre‚ listing his transgressions‚ and your failure to report this to the Minister immediately not only violated the FIC Act but also violated the provisions of section 195 of the Constitution which you are enjoined to fulfil in terms of section 4(2) of the Sars Act; specifically the maintenance of high standards of professional ethics‚ ensuring public administration is accountable‚ and being transparent to the public.
“You failed to provide related reports to the Minister of Finance‚ and only finally agreed to do so under pressure from the Standing Committee on Finance last week. You failed to maintain discipline at the Sars as required in section 9(2) of the Sars Act or to maintain an efficient administration. You have further and thereby failed in your role as an accounting officer for Sars. As a result‚ the Sars has been fundamentally jeopardised and has lost the confidence of taxpayers.”
Ramaphosa has also accused Moyane of bringing Sars into disrepute “in relation to the management of VAT refunds‚ you have brought the Sars into serious disrepute‚ failed in your duties as accounting officer for the SARS and potentially jeopardised the integrity and viability of the Sars as collector of revenue for the state.
“These are serious matters. They are recorded by such institutions as the Tax Ombud in its report of September 2017‚ and the Financial Intelligence Centre.”
Ramaphosa said protecting Sars and the public interest was his primary concern.
“As commissioner of the Sars, you hold a high position of trust in the management of our public finances. The disrepute in which you have brought the Sars and the government as a whole and the risk to the national Revenue Fund are enormous. You have not been willing to acknowledge your failures or the magnitude of the consequences of your action.”
Mark Kingon has been appointed the acting Sars commissioner with immediate effect pending the institution of disciplinary proceedings against Moyane.